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Estimating Your Initial Space Requirements

Estimating your initial space requirements can be completed using the TenantWise estimator. However, we caveat these estimates because a square foot measurement can vary considerably from one space to the next. As you complete the square foot estimator, focus on an approximate size range, not just one size. This estimate will carry through the entire process and you do not want to limit your choices too early, particularly in the site selection process.

Changes To The Existing Layout

More often than not, it is necessary to make changes to the existing layout of a piece of space to suit your particular business.

10,000 Square Feet and Under

In our experience, tenants under 10,000 sq. ft. generally try to make do with the space as they find it. These tenants make decisions regarding which space to choose out of a desire to avoid the construction process which can involve time and expense. For spaces under 10,000 square feet this focus is appropriate, particularly if you need space quickly. Since the construction process alone can take one month to plan and at least two to three months to execute, smaller tenants do not have time to wait for the space to be completed, nor have the money to pay rent on two locations while one is being built. Beware of those with vested interests in the construction process. They are notorious for making it seem easy and often quote construction times which are not realistic. For instance, we have heard numerous times that construction for a space under 10,000 square feet will take "two-to-three weeks". In essence, it is correct that once hammers start swinging it could take that long for the actual work to be completed. However, this time quote ignores the planning, construction drawing, permitting and filing stages and landlord approval. Add these times together and two-to-three weeks easily becomes three months.

If you work in an open plan environment there is a good possibility that you will find space that will roughly approximate your needs. Some construction items are more important than others while some space may appear perfect if a few walls are moved, it can often become a more costly process. Sometimes even small modifications to space can be unusually costly. Moving a wall can have a domino effect on related costs, such as additional costs for HVAC distribution, lighting, electric distribution, and telecommunications. Purely cosmetic changes, such as painting and installing new carpet have fewer hidden costs.

10,000 to 25,000 Square Feet

If your space requirement is in the 10,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet range, it will be more difficult to find spaces that match your requirements as is. You may have to consider rebuilding every space you see. We recently advised two companies (both approximately 15,000 square feet) that they should try to find space that most closely matched their final needs in order to save much needed cash. Both found spaces, one needed minor improvements; the other needed to be about 50% modified.

25,000 Square Feet and Above

If your requirement is over 25,000 square feet, it is likely you will be involved in a construction process, which from start to finish will take at least four to six months. For projects over 25,000 square feet, it makes economic sense to employ a project manager to help guide you through the construction process. Project managers are hired by and report to tenants. They act as the owner representative with regard to construction issues. Project managers typically charge a monthly retainer fee which generally ranges from $2 to $4 per square foot for the entire job (for example, a 25,000 square foot job would cost $75,000, or $15,000 per month for five months). In our experience, the better firms are capable of saving you a multiple of their fees.

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Can I Avoid Construction And Save Money?

If you plan on using an existing space and think that you can cost effectively make a few alterations, READ ON!

Realize that as you plan to alter space by moving walls that your flexibility is severely limited by the existing ceiling configuration. You may notice that as the space is laid out, every office has an electrical outlet, a vent, and a light. To the extent that you move walls, you may be creating offices that need ventilation, electricity and lighting and that currently have none. At first you may think that it will be easy just to put electrical lighting and ventilation in an office. It is not. The cost to redo a number of offices often meets or exceeds the cost to tear down that space and start over. Regardless of what anyone tells you it is not possible to build office space from scratch at less than $50 per square foot (very plain finishes), and more likely it will cost $70 per square foot. That equates to $250,000 upfront for a 5,000 square foot space.

It is also important to know the process of packing more people into an existing space has the effect of running up costs. One of our clients budgeted improvements for 70 employees in its space but found that packing over 90 people into the same 14,000 square foot floor required expenditures for more electrical outlets and increased cooling, which was expensive to change.

Altering a space configuration by moving walls is not impossible, just bear in mind the related costs and that (obviously) exterior walls, walls which partition space from elevator shafts, building core elements or water pipes cannot be moved.

Anyway, if you hope to reuse space, it is important that prior to signing a lease you alert us and we will help you contact an architect or engineer to help assess the costs of reuse.

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